Apple jerks our chains

Can we really change the subject from Steve Jobs' health to Apple's holiday sales results?

Even for reporters who regularly cover Apple (aapl) and are used to getting manipulated by the company's well-oiled PR machine, this is a headsnap.

One day we're supposed process the news that Steve Jobs is too sick to run world's most valuable technology company. The next we're expected to report -- as if nothing had happened -- the financial details of what everybody expects will be Apple's biggest quarter ever.

Like any company with a knack for public relations, Apple likes to time the release of news -- good and bad -- to maximize or cushion its impact. Reporters are used to this kind of thing.

But it's rare that the public is exposed to such naked manipulation on the front page.

So before we shift gears and start talking about the quarterly results scheduled to be released after the markets close today, let's at least acknowledge -- with no disrespect to Mr. Jobs and no less compassion for what he and his family are going through -- that Apple is pulling our chains.

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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